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Forget Fashion Week. And don’t talk politics with me, I’m feeling sick about the whole darn mess. Shall I tell you what I want, what I really really want?

A dress.

I’m on the hunt for a dress for two glamorous occasions – our 50th high school reunion next month, and my son’s wedding next year. Yes, I don’t think it’s too much to ask this dress to do double duty. One occasion will be a beachy/Cali vibe, while the other will be what, more of a, “Of course it’s you, I’d recognize you anywhere after 50 years!”

Seeing as in 1966 I was dressed usually in loafers and kilts, my primal brain is feeling that approach/avoidance sensation. First because lots of our old friends have become new Facebook friends, and I can’t wait to actually SEE them again, and second, this is the avoidance part, because I remember hunting for a Mother-of-the-Bride dress in 2010.

“Everything I try on either makes me look like a stuffed sausage, or a Peggy Sue prom queen,” was my lament to Bob six years ago. We even traveled to the big city of Richmond, but came back empty-handed. Here is one of the few pix from the Bride’s wedding where I do not have a huge scarf draped around me – the detail from the back is telling. I need straps first and foremost! jm-0925

Unfortunately the fashion industry didn’t listen to my sobbing pleas for help then, and now it’s only worse. Yesterday I listened to NPR in the car, with Tim Gunn talking about his industry’s failure with plus-size women. He had this to say to the Washington Post:

Have you shopped retail for size 14-plus clothing? Based on my experience shopping with plus-size women, it’s a horribly insulting and demoralizing experience. Half the items make the body look larger, with features like ruching, box pleats and shoulder pads. Pastels and large-scale prints and crazy pattern-mixing abound, all guaranteed to make you look infantile or like a float in a parade. Adding to this travesty is a major department-store chain that makes you walk under a marquee that reads “WOMAN.” What does that even imply? That a “woman” is anyone larger than a 12, and everyone else is a girl? It’s mind-boggling.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/09/08/tim-gunn-designers-refuse-to-make-clothes-to-fit-american-women-its-a-disgrace/?utm_term=.410b22a78cad

Thanks Tim, and yes designers are thinking about size 0 to 6 instead of size 16, but lots of us “Women of a Certain Age” fall somewhere in the middle and still cannot find a decent dress to save our lives. I noticed that Marilyn Monroe’s Happy Birthday Mr President’s dress is going to the auction block and should fetch around 2-3M. OK, so what if she had to be sewn into the thing and couldn’t sit down the whole night. Rumor has it it’s a size 12! Would it be oh so hard to design a dress just a little less sexy than her sequined, see-through number? Maybe something not matronly or childish?

I totally get Hillary’s pant suits now…

Designers I have a tip for you. Stop looking at movies for inspiration, or the 18th Century. Start looking at us! What makes our bodies look good? Yes we have ‘born babies’ and were the first generation to breast feed our offspring since our immigrant ancestors stepped off the boat in this country. Sure we have a few pounds to lose, but we’re not obsessively dieting anymore. We register people to vote. We work in and out of our homes, we swim, we walk our dogs! We are Nanas, hear us roar! We are genuinely happy women, until we start dress shopping.

If you think you may have a solution to my existential problem, feel free to PM me. Or comment. I’m open to online shopping in 2016. After all, it was only after Leslie Jones posted her plight to social media, about her hunt for a red carpet dress, that a designer stepped up to the plate. Sample size is not the normal American woman size folks! http://www.vogue.com/13452803/leslie-jones-ghostbusters-premiere-christian-siriano/

And if all else fails, I might just go vintage in my closet!

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Tuesday Terror

Last night I had a nightmare. Of course it involved a car, my usual scenario. It was one of those “Please let this be a dream” nightmares as I was waking up. It had all the usual elements: I was lost; the man driving the car was a maniac; and technology was winning. Yes, my iPhone was in my dream. When I tried to open Google Maps to find my way home, it was stuck – I couldn’t move the screen – it was stuck on me, on the pedestrian me, and someone was watching my every move…maybe I shouldn’t see that new movie Snowden?

Last night a pedestrian was killed by two cars in Keswick. Someone just walking along a road, was hit by a Volvo of all things and then hit again by a pick-up. And a few weeks ago, a woman from California was dropping off her Freshman son at UVA, when she was killed in a relatively new shopping center here in Cville. She and her husband and daughter were just crossing a street, she had probably made her son’s dorm room bed. Maybe his sister had organized his CDs? Do kids still have records or is everything on their phones?

In VA, everyone stops for pedestrians, at least that was my understanding.

The day before, Bob and I had just been to Trader Joe’s in that place and remarked at how the design – the streets, the parking, the signs – was God-awful. http://www.nbc12.com/story/32808255/family-dropping-off-son-at-uva-struck-by-car-mother-killed

We go to Trader Joe’s for two things, Bob’s maple syrup and my unsweetened green iced tea. And we might go to the new cinema in that shopping center, the one I call Stonehenge but is really “The Shops at Stonefield.” In fact we plan on seeing that new Amy Adam’s movie about aliens there, because I need to be frightened just a bit more before Halloween. Here is the trailer that the Rocker produced:

Amy Adams Deals Directly with Aliens in ‘Arrival’ Trailer

I feel like I am living in a nightmare, a war zone lately. Seaside, and Chelsea and a knife-wielding monster in a MN mall. But then I am reminded by our President, who is in New York at the UN, that we must open our hearts to Syrian refugees. Only to read a convoy of trucks full of humanitarian aid was barrel bombed on its way into Aleppo today. I am reminded that in fact, I am not living in a war zone, but these poor people are. The cease fire, such as it was, is over. Russia is playing coy, not claiming responsibility, I imagine waiting to see who will win the US Presidency.

And so we talk about Skittles, and baskets of deplorables.

Maybe the best news of all was hearing that five years from now we will all be driving around in driverless cars. This IS good news, right?  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/business/ford-promises-fleets-of-driverless-cars-within-five-years.html?_r=0   17ford-master675

 

 

 

Lost Lovey

My Grand Daughter left her Monkey on the plane going home to Nashville. The whole family went into crisis mode. Just to be clear, the Love Bug does have an emergency back-up Monkey, but it’s lacking an eye and wouldn’t fool her one bit. The airline was called and online reports were written; the small independent toy store in Charlottesville was searched.

“But this doesn’t look like her Monkey, ” I said.

Why would a stuffed animal company named Jellycats decide, in the course of four years, to make Monkey’s tail yellow and his feet brown?         img_5207

My plan was to wash and distress the new Monkey, and try to pass him off as Lovey Monkey #2, but to no avail. Ebay was a total fail.

“No, not worth getting a different one,” the Bride said.

But I did get the Bug a new Monkey, and shipped it off yesterday with its very own letter from Nana. The Love Bug has other endearing nicknames, which is why she is called Ms Magoo Two, after the Bride, who was the original Ms Magoo.

We all have to learn how to deal with Love and Loss eventually, still I thought she was just too young, too little, too tender…

Nana

Charlottesville, Virginia

Dear Ms Magoo Number Two

I have searched high and low, near and far, up and down, all over town for Monkey, and I have some news.

It seems he has decided to take a Grand World Tour on that airplane. As we all know, monkeys are very curious, and he wanted to see what other monkeys in other countries are up to:

To visit Lemurs in Madagascar

To visit Orangutans in Borneo

To visit Chimpanzees in Tanzania

To visit Mountain Gorillas in Uganda

And Lowland Gorillas in Cameroon

Monkey knows you will miss him, and he will miss you too. And so he has sent his twin sister to keep you company. Her name is Mona the Monkey!

Mona is very kind and funny, and she loves meeting new people! She likes to listen to your stories, have tea parties with dancing and singing, and just generally be the Belle of the Ball!

Like her twin, she loves to snuggle best of all.

I hope you will allow Ms Mona the Monkey into your heart Ms Magoo Two, and give her a chance to be your very dear Lovey. At least until Monkey decides to return to Nashville, Tennessee, whenever that may be.

She told me she cannot wait to see your new house and playroom, your new classroom and meet all your friends at school. She also told me she thinks you should be a Princess for Halloween, because you are already a Princess to her!

I really had so much fun in New York with you darling girl, and I promise to come and visit soon. I love you a bushel and a peck and oodles and boodles of macaroni noodles!

 

Kisses and Hugs,      

Nana

 

Going Home

It was a constellation of events. The Bride and Groom had a wedding to attend this past weekend in NJ, very close to Great Grandma Ada and Great Grandpa Hudson’s home. And even though we were just in Nashville for the Love Bug’s pirate birthday, we wanted to continue the love, so we drove north. At one point I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride, driving on 81 and 287, I forgot how many cars and trucks drive so close and so fast. Guess I’ve become a VA driver. Good for Bob, he still loves to hustle on the road!

The Bride wanted to introduce the Bug to the Big Apple. Taylor Swift is her number one crush of the moment, and she knows the singer moved from Nashville to NYC. She was hoping for a celebrity spotting, and so we ventured over the George Washington Bridge and down the East River. The same route that was embedded in my memory, when my family would take the bridge to visit my sister, Kay, on the Upper East Side.

What we hadn’t factored into the weekend’s equation was our only free day for New York was Sunday, September 11th.

I did not sit and listen to the names, because I know one of the names.

I did not write about 9/11, because I lived through that day. Waiting for the Bride to call me from DC. Wondering where the Rocker was since he had left his high school, along with his friends. Worrying about Bob, who was helping to coordinate disaster relief at a marina.

I did not play a video about boat rescues, because my friend was on a ferry that returned with ash covered people.

Since we only had a short time on Sunday, we decided to stay uptown. Men in saffron colored robes approached me, and I waved them off like a true New Yorker, but said “Sorry” like a Virginian. Pigeons fluttered in the glorious sunlight that streamed through the buildings. I asked my Bug if there were more pigeons or people in NY, and she smiled and said, “People.”

But actually the city was strangely quiet. Reverent. And it wasn’t until I recapped our day for Bob – at the Metropolitan Museum and visiting Aunt Kay – that tears filled my eyes. Because we went straight to the museum’s rooftop, where I was intrigued by the Roof Garden’s “PsychoBarn.” http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2016/cornelia-parker

A facade, the Queen Ann farmhouse looked as if it had dropped out of a Kansas tornado into this spectacular setting. Like a stage setting, It is “Simultaneously authentic and illusory.” The artist was alluding to a child’s fascination with transitional objects; something that helps to “…negotiate their self-identity as separate from their parents.” I told the Bride if only it were yellow, instead of red, it would have looked like my NJ home.

And as we gazed across the trees of Central Park, at the skyline of NY, I felt a certain nostalgia. But also an overwhelming sense of calm, a serenity usually reserved for my mountain view. I told Bob it was only right for us to be there, on top of a tall building in the center of one of our most beautiful cities, on this sacred day.   img_5189

 

 

 

 

 

Fight or Fly

Last night, for only the second time in my life, my dog was attacked. The first time this happened, I was walking 100 pound Buddha. 

Four dogs flew through their invisible fence and stood growling and barring their teeth. Time stood still. I wasn’t sure what to do, but many Sherlock Holmes-like scenarios ran through my head. 

Should I let go of the leash so as not to be entangled by it?

And just as I was calculating that in a split second Buddha calmly placed his whole white, furry Polar Bear body sideways in front of me. Never looking into the dogs eyes, he stood his ground, showing them the grand beauty of his size alone. 

They continued to growl, but softer. I knew what to do. “Heel” boy, and we walked away from that  encounter, our heads high. 

But last night I got sucker punched. Returning late from Grandma Ada’s, I was walking Ms Bean back into the hotel on her leash. Right near the front door, an old hound filled with tumors started to growl and I didn’t think anything of it  until he started to pummel forward. 

He bit Bean in the neck and I can’t remember time standing still. In fact, it sped up and we went around and around, it didn’t occur to me to drop the leash. Finally Bob intervened and my poor Ms Bean had pulled her head out of its collar to run away. 

But the worst was yet to come. The  hound’s woman stayed in the lobby, apologizing as Bean cowered underneath me. Bob told her we were fine, when in fact we were not, and the night manager asked her to return to her room – asked Bob if we we would like to call the police, to press charges. 

As the woman left the lobby, she muttered some insult at us. At that point I went into fight mode, leaving Bean with Bob I nearly ran after her and stood within an inch of her life to tell her exactly what I thought of her and her aggressive, unhinged and unleashed dog!

She backed down. 

You do not mess with a Jersey girl masquerading as a Virginia country woman. This morning we will walk Bean in the Park. Maybe I will try meditation, sometimes I feel like I could fly. I will ice my pinky finger again, that same one is a soft shade of leash-twisting purple. Bean seems fine, there was no blood, only the residual stream of adrenaline dripping through my veins. 

But there will be papers filed. It’s true about never going home again.  

A Culture of Rape

What a glorious morning in the Blue Ridge. I’ve been sitting out on the deck with Ms Bean watching golden leaves drift by and listening to the rustle of oak trees in the wind. Soon I will have to bring the plants in from the porch, but for now, this is my season. Warm, sunny days and cool nights, Fall in Virginia is at its most elegant. Only the recurring theme of rape brings my autumn rhapsody to an end, and sends me upstairs to write.

Maybe it’s because we were sailing the Danube when a Stanford swimmer was on trial for raping an unconscious girl behind a dumpster, or maybe it’s just because I’ve been too politically plugged in to think about anything else, but today’s news caught my attention. Brock Turner, the rapist/swimmer, has been released from jail and is registering himself as a sex offender in Ohio. There are a few things about this case I find abhorrent.

First, in the state of California, if you rape an unconscious girl, they assume she has given her consent because she can’t say, “No.” Should I say that again? There are a few states that have crafted laws like this, what shall we call it, the “I Can’t Say No” clause? So, this gentleman was charged with a “sexual assault,” not “rape.” Still, this is how the FBI describes rape – “…penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

Nothing about the ability to talk, in fact we know some women are so terrified they cannot utter a word. In this case, the woman was “lucky” two men saw her being raped, and chased down the predator. Because if that had not happened, this would have just been another post-party night on campus. The unnamed young victim read a lengthy letter to Turner at sentencing, this is a small part:

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up.

Three months in jail, a slap on the wrist. Boys will be boys will be sex offenders for life.

Let’s leap across the country to New Hampshire, to another white, privileged incidence of rape that has shocked suburbia. This week the victim of last year’s St Paul’s prep rape case went public. A very brave Chessy Prout, who is only 17 now, was a 15 year old Freshman at the prestigious school when she became a victim of something called the “Senior Salute,” where upperclassmen try to hook up with the new students. Owen Labrie, a 20 year old who looks like a student at Hogwarts, was sentenced to one year in prison after he was found on a train violating his bail. Poor boy, he was only trying to visit his girlfriend at Harvard. http://www.today.com/news/chessy-prout-st-paul-s-school-assault-survivor-sheds-anonymity-t102326

And skipping back a century, if you’ve been following any of Downton’s marathon episodes over Labor Day weekend, you may have been reminded of the lady’s maid, Anna, who was raped downstairs during a concert upstairs. It happened in the second episode of Season Four, and I happened to watch a bit while Bob was working. How could I forget the intrigue of the rapist’s untimely death, the aftermath of arrests at the castle? Who did push the rapist off a train platform to a very Anna Karenina end? Was it Anna, or her husband Mr Bates?

Rape happened in the Bible, and lest you think we’ve figured it out, it wasn’t until 1998 when the state of Mississippi struck down its law that a rape could only be proved if a woman was “pure.” And let’s all thank “King Edward I of England (who) was a forward-thinking chap. He enacted the landmark Statutes of Westminster at the end of the 13th century. They redefined rape as a public wrong, not just a private property battle. The legislation also cut out the virgin distinction and made consent irrelevant for girls under 12…” http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/men-defining-rape-history

If you haven’t sat down to talk with your high school and college Freshmen, boys and girls, about these things, you had better plan some time over Parent’s Weekend. Tell them if a girl falls down, pick her up. This was the view from my kitchen last night. Apricot night skies and buttercream mornings. img_5153

 

 

A friend asked me if I had any plans this weekend. I told her I’d just returned from Nashville, and Bob of course was working. ERs can get pretty busy when Summer turns to Fall. There was a slight chill in the air this morning as I kissed Bob goodbye. A pale sun glow illuminated the eastern ridge, as I sat down in the aviary to ponder plans.

1 – Shop Local… and sustainably! Forget about big box sales, on junk from China, my buddy Wendi has a delightful warehouse in Cville chockfull of anything and everything for your home. When the grande dames of Albemarle County start downsizing, they bring their gorgeous antique furniture and unique finds from around the world in fashion to her. I follow Leftover Luxuries on Instagram to see what rolled in this week; needless to say, you never know what you might find! A huge farm table for under $500? Bonus, you don’t have to build her furniture! http://www.leftoverluxuries.com/home

2 – Get Your Hands Dirty! Plant a new tree, or some bulbs. Now’s the best time imho to spruce up your garden. There’s only a couple of months of watering until frost steps in and you’re done! And if you don’t have a green thumb, our local potter Mud Dauber, (a gallery and studio of different clay artists) will be giving private throwing classes in their 1890s renovated barn – right down the road in Earlysville, near the Farmer’s Market! I was thinking this might be a good exercise for my broken pinky finger. https://www.visitcharlottesville.org/listing/mud-dauber-pottery/1218/

3 – Hit Up an Indie Bookstore – You know all about me and that famous Nashville watering hole for literati, but why not find your very own indie bookstore and lose yourself for an hour or so among the shelves? If there’s one thing Millennials and us Boomers have in common, it’s that we prefer to read real books on paper over a device of any kind. When I was writing for the Two River Times in NJ, I loved stopping in at Fair Haven Books – now known as River Road Bookstore. The ladies there knew my name and what I liked to read, so I never left empty-handed. In Prague I discovered the Palac Knih (Palace of Books), but here in Cville, stop by New Dominion Bookshop!  http://www.newdominionbookshop.com

4 – Take Up a New Sport – One of my Facebook friends mentioned that her son doesn’t like sports, what’s a mom to do? I told her not to worry, kids gravitate to their own beat; the Rocker hated baseball when he was little, even though I loved playing softball every summer at camp. Lacrosse was a no go, only ice hockey sustained my son’s interest. Coming full circle, his band Parlor Mob joined a Jersey Shore Rock and Roll team that benefitted several charities, and voila he was back out in the field again! My sports club in Cville opened a brand spanking new Squash facility last year, hmm… facilityhttp://www.theaquarian.com/2011/08/17/shoreworld-charity-softball-new-asbury-music-book-and-more/

5 – Do a Vineyard Tour – Central VA is full of vintners, honestly I can’t drive ten minutes without finding a winery! We’re kinda like Napa, only not so well known and greener. Millennials drive down here from Northern VA for weekend wine tours, but for us, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to the best terroir on the planet. My favorite wine of all time is White Hall, it’s a beautiful drive out past Crozet http://centralvirginiawinetours.com/wine-tours/  Or maybe think about planting your own grapes? That is if you’re not into craft beer, and beekeeping seems too difficult…ah, the toils of the landed gentry!  http://www.virginiaestates.com/virginia-farms-for-sale/starting/vineyards.asp

6 – Charlottesville City Market – If you’d rather buy your local produce, head on down to this fantastic farmer’s market very early tomorrow morning. UVA is back in session so this place gets crowded quickly. There are over 100 vendors in the downtown Water St parking lot, and you will find everything edible in season, and jewelry, wood carvings, gorgeous orchids and much much more. Plus, it’s an event. You are guaranteed to meet someone you know, and to learn something new. I hope Hermine decides to spare my friends in FL, and maybe hold the rain off here until noon. http://www.charlottesville.org/departments-and-services/departments-h-z/parks-recreation-/city-market

7 – Warhol Your World – If it’s raining, pop into a museum! There’s the Broad in LA where you will find Ms Cait, and the Frist Center in Nashville where my grand babies roam free. But here the UVA Fralin Museum will be finishing up its show of Andy Warhol silkscreens on September 18th. “The exhibition will pay special tribute to the concept of the icon, and the fluid definition of that term in contemporary society, particularly in relation to its historical definition. From Annie Oakley to Liza Minnelli and Saint Apollonia, in these prints as in other works, Warhol played on notions of celebrity through the use of the singular iconic image—repeated, reproduced, and reversed.”  http://www.virginia.edu/artmuseum/index.php   This is titled “Butterfly on Nana 1”

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